With the pandemic, I’ve been dividing my time mostly between two activities: riding and writing. I’m either at the stables with my two horses or at home writing, surrounded by my reptiles. It’s working out well since I’m getting fresh air and exercise with Button and Exuma, which stimulates my health and well-being for the writing. My household full of reptiles provides the inspiration.
Currently, my young gelding, Exuma, pictured above, is having his first lessons carrying a rider, while I take lessons to be able to ride him. You see, my first horse, Button, is a Missouri Fox Trotter, a gaited horse. A gaited horse moves more smoothly than a non-gaited horse. This is due to a unique natural broken gait that allows at least one foot to be on the ground at any given time. Gaited horses are desired for pleasure riding which is what I want to do, trail riding around the Sonoran Desert. Non-gaited horses when trotting move a front foot and the opposite rear foot at the same time. This creates a jarring, bouncing-rider, motion.
Since I came to horseback riding late in life (a few years ago), I’ve only had lessons on a gaited horse. My new boy is a quarter horse, a non-gaited breed. Riding Button is not going to prepare me for riding Exuma. Therefore, I’m taking lessons on an amazing mustang named Napoleon. I’ve learned how to trot, both sitting and posting (which is when the rider rises from the saddle in time with the horse’s gait, which isn’t necessary on a gaited horse). Recently, I rode for my first free canter—which is faster than a trot—but unlike the trot, it is more of a scooping motion, sort of like riding a wave.
To prepare the horse for the signal to canter, I’m supposed to scoop the saddle with my hips. My first attempts were a bit over-enthusiastic. I was apparently envisioning the Geico insurance commercial that features the hip hop group Tag Team, scooping the ice cream. I scooped big! The cantering did not go well.
I was told I needed to scoop less, more like sliding a chair under a table. So while I sit writing, I roll my chair back and forth under my desk. I can improve my riding while writing! Back on Napoleon, when I scooped less, using the easy, chair-rolling motion, the cantering went much better. Every successful lesson takes me one day closer to riding both my horses.
Here is my mare, Button, a Missouri Fox Trotter.
At the top of the page is Exuma, a quarter horse. Quarter horses are so-called because of their sprinting ability. They can beat other horse breeds in distances of a quarter mile or less.
I’m glad I can work on both my activities, writing and riding, at the same time!
Scoop, there it is!
Back to work on all my fun writing activities. You see, I weave science into poetry books and adventures tales, hoping to make learning science fun for the reader. And, I’m also writing murder mysteries, which I tremendously enjoy. If you’re looking for some fun science books about Sonoran Desert wildlife, here you go: